Magura's crown jewel, the MT-8 disc brake system, has been shrouded in secrecy for a number of years. Take a close look at the carbon fiber brake lever assembly and you may begin to understand why it took so long for it to hit the market. The lever is resin-impregnated carbon fiber weave and the perch/master cylinder is injection molded into its final shape. Voodoo science aside, the end product is a magnificently lightweight, 278 grams-gram-per-side hydraulic disc brake system that, in the Magura tradition, delivers smooth, powerful stops and runs friction free. MT-8 brakes are intended for XC/Trail and All-mountain use, cost $399 per wheel, and will be available in late summer of 2011.
Magura MT-8 Details
Stunning design - and all carbon fiber beyond the hardware bits. Meet Magura's MT-8 brake lever.
Master Cylinder Magic: Magura employs an injection-molding process which combines loose carbon fibers in a resin mixture to make the bar-clamp/master cylinder housing. The design of the mold is reported to align the fibers in the optimum direction as the resin/fiber mixture is forced into the cavity. Beyond a significant weight reduction, the entire perch/master cylinder unit pops from the mold ready to use. Visually, the MT-8 lever is dramatically different from its metal Marta counterpart. The radial cylinder and reservoir are packaged internally, so the MT-8 looks slimmer and lacks the Marta's anodized aluminum faceplate. Like all Magura brakes, the MT-8 system uses mineral oil. The bleed port is still easily accessible from the front of the perch to make for simple servicing, and a split handlebar clamp, along with a mirror-image design, means that the MT-8 levers can be flipped right-to-left for moto-style riders (a Magura first). The clamp is also injection-molded carbon, and is available in a direct-mount option for SRAM shifters. Carbon Levers
: MT-8 levers, like the Marta SL, are constructed using a resin-transfer process. Layers of precut carbon-fiber woven material are stacked into a mold and then injected with epoxy resin at high pressure which is then cured in place. The final product is ready to use, with a beautiful clear-coat-like finish. The wide, comfortable MT-8 levers are only adjustable for reach. There is no provision for engagement-point indexing.
Storm SL Rotors
Magura offers a direct-mount clamp for SRAM shifter pods that is also injection-molded carbon fiber.
: Magura's lightest rotors are still a full, 2.4-millimeters thick stainless steel - which help them to resist warping at higher temperatures, and to take a beating without bending. The wavy-pattern of the Storm SL rotor's braking track helps to shed mud and water, while a large number of ventilation holes reduce weight. Storm SL rotors are available in 8, 7 and 6-inch diameters (203, 180, and 160-millimeters) and there is a special 5-inch (140-millimeter) rotor for the rear-brake only that Magura offers for XC racing. Storm SL rotors use the international-standard, six-bolt pattern. Claimed weights are 153, 122, 95 and 75 grams respectively. MT-8 Caliper
: Magura's latest caliper technology is a minimalist, forged-aluminum design that employs dual-arch stiffeners similar to its suspension forks. The two arches carry the clamping forces of the caliper, while allowing easy access to the top-loading brake pads. Stock brakes have Magura's organic friction compound pads which are held in place by magnets on the caliper pistons and a central safety retaining screw. Tabs on the brake pads make replacement a simple one-hand operation. Magura offers a harder-stopping, 6.1 semi-metallic "performance" pad and a long-wearing 6.2 "endurance" option for aftermarket customers. Banjo hydraulic fittings allow for precise alignment of the brake hose with the frame or fork. MT8 calipers are post-mount, and will fit oversized rotors or international-standard flange-type bosses with the usual adapters.
The extensive ventilation of the Storm SL 7-inch front rotor is a thing of beauty, as is the new caliper design.
Magura MT-8 Disc Brake Riding Impression
We installed the Magura MT-8s on a Santa Cruz Blur LTc trailbike, outfitted with grabby Schwalbe Hans Damph tires so that we could work the Magura Brakes hard. The front rotor was a Storm SL 7-incher with a 6-inch disc in the rear. Conditions for the test were dry and dusty with a number of water crossings to ensure that the Maguras got a taste of grit before we passed judgment. Trails were varied with a few slickrock descents and one nice, steep-as-you-can-ride section to keep it all honest. Break-in:
We began with a series of firm braking efforts from about 20 miles an hour on pavement to mate the pads with the rotors. To prevent squealing, a "break-in" session should be done with any new system, or when new pads are installed, to ensure that the pad material is evenly deposited on the rotor surface. A half-dozen stops were all that was needed to bring the MT-8s into their full stopping potential. Ergonomics:
Spend some time getting the lever reach right, because the MT-8 requires a Torx key to adjust the lever angle. Once set, the feel at the lever of the MT-8s is comfortable, firm at the engagement point and minimal finger pressure is required to make strong speed corrections. Magura was one of the first brake makers to offer a wider blade. The MT-8 blade is shaped differently, but it feels like a close, but not exact replica of the Marta SL version - which is saying that it fits one or two fingers easily and doesn't tire the hands on extended descents.
To describe Magura's double-arch caliper design as "minimalist" would be an understatement.
Top-loading brake pads allow users to replace pads without removing the wheel. The banjo hose fitting can be angled to suit individual applications.
: Power and modulation are the golden rule of braking, and the MT-8s stop with more authority than the Martas they supersede, and stop on par with anything Shimano or SRAM has in the XC/AM category. There is a solid feel as the pad contacts the rotor and that translates to positive communication between the lever-grip and the ground. The MT-8's firm modulation pays dividends when a wheel locks, because only a slight release pressure will get it rolling again. A mushier feeling lever would have to be released almost completely to get the wheel rolling - which can seem like forever at the wrong moment. Wet or dry, the MT-8 brake seemed to stop with equal authority, and our set never peeped or squealed after the break-in interval. Best of all, the rotors spun clear of the calipers--and still run drag fee.
And the downsides?
The carbon lever perch and clamp can slip on the handlebar and once it gets moving, it goes a long way. Those who set their lever with a little less clamping tension to protect the levers in event of a crash might want to tighten them a bit more than normal. Worth mentioning, is that Magura's Storm SL rotors (and other brands with similar ventilation) emanate a soft buzzing sound while braking. If you like complete silence from your brakes, MT-8s are probably not for you. Finally, we never yard-saled the bike during the MT-8 test, so we can't presume how the new carbon/carbon brake levers are going to hold up under severe punishment. That question will be answered soon, however, because we don't plan on taking them off for the foreseeable future. Pinkbike Weighs In On MT-8 Brakes
Performance minded riders with a ready source of cash will find Magura's latest braking system hard to pass up. The MT-8 delivers the goods in all the right departments: modulation, stopping power, ergonomics, great looks, and Magura gets it all done with a brake that is lightweight enough to make a fastidious XC racer cry like a baby. Keep an eye out for the release of Magura's MT-8 brakes and while you're at it; give us your comments about injection-molded carbon levers.